While it was not a major factor in our decision to come to Lebanon, learning that there is skiing in the country was a definite draw for me. Where else can you ski in the morning and go to the beach in the afternoon? Not that I have done that….but it is possible.
I have been skiing twice, both times at the closest ski area, Faraya, which is about 90 minutes away by car. Back in January I went with two other guys from ACS. It was a memorable day, but unfortunately, not in a good way. Except for an hour in the middle of the day, the mountain was blanketed in fog. Visibility was about 5 feet, and with no trees on the mountain to provide some orientation, nausea quickly set in as we tried to make our way down the mountain. Most of the day was spent with a very shaky stomach. During the short stretch when the sun did shine, I took the worst fall of my skiing life, resulting in a badly bruised lower back and torn ligaments in my left thumb. I did not want this day to be my only memory of skiing in Lebanon this year, and was determined to get back there and have a good day on the slopes.
This past Saturday I was able to join teachers from the Middle School on a bus trip to Faraya. We did encounter one of those unexplainable “this is Lebanon” moments as we approached the mountain. As we rounded a corner about a kilometer from the mountain, our bus, like every other bus carrying skiers, was stopped by policemen on the side of the road. We were told the large buses could not go any further. Why? We never did get a straight answer to that question. No room for buses in the parking lots? Security?? A money making scheme for local taxi companies??? Who knows. After half an hour sitting on the side of the road we turned the bus around and made our way to the mountain via a back route. No check points, no problem. Welcome to Lebanon.
The day was warm, with clear blue skies. While the conditions were a bit icy in the morning, the snow quickly softened up and we enjoyed a day with spring like conditions. The mountains of Lebanon are treeless, so it is pretty much “above tree line” skiing, with open terrain and mini bowls and knolls everywhere. In spite of being told by locals not to expect much, I was impressed with the size of the area and the general conditions.
Signage was minimal, and lift lines, like “lines” everywhere in this country are largely disorganized. But that aside, I will be proud to put a “Faraya, Lebanon” sticker on my helmet…..once I get one made.